In 2019, citizen scientists reported more than 9,000 sightings through the Ocean Wise WhaleReport App contributing to important research and conservation efforts
The results are in.
In 2019, 1,149 citizen scientists reported 9,797 whale, dolphin, porpoise and sea turtle sightings to Ocean Wise’s BC Cetacean Sightings Network (BCCSN) using the WhaleReport app. Among the many dedicated reporters, a handful of organizations stood out for their commitment to the reporting program and are being recognized as the ‘top reporters’ of 2019.
Every report made through the WhaleReport app provides scientists and conservationists with valuable data to protect at-risk species. Whale sighting reports are also fed into the WhaleReport Alert System (WRAS) which, as of 2018, immediately notifies commercial mariners (such as ferries, cruise ships, tugboats and tankers) to the presence of a cetacean in their vicinity, allowing them to undertake mitigation measures, such as slowing down or altering course, to reduce the risk of collision and disturbance.
The BC Cetacean Sightings Network (BCCSN) is an Ocean Wise Conservation Association program and longtime collaboration with Fisheries and Oceans Canada. It was established to maintain whale report data in a consistent format that makes it valuable to researchers, NGOs and government.
“This is an example of species conservation in action” said Lasse Gustavsson, president and CEO of Ocean Wise Conservation Association. “We are very happy to be recognizing the many organizations that have been so committed to reporting their sightings. They are making a difference to the health of cetacean populations in the wild such as endangered Southern Resident killer whales.”
“Of the 25 species of whales, dolphins, porpoises, and sea turtles in BC waters, 11 populations are listed as at-risk,” said Dr. Lance Barrett-Lennard, Director of Ocean Wise’s Marine Mammal Research Program. “Data from the WhaleReport app gives us invaluable information about the distribution and abundance of species which is key to understanding their status and whether they are improving, steady or declining.”
Achieving ‘top reporter’ status confirms an organization’s commitment to cetacean conservation. Among the top reporters for 2019 were BC Ferries and Victoria’s Five Star Whale Watching which reported 703 and 546 sightings respectively in 2019.
“Being named one of the top reporters for the BC Cetacean Sightings Network this year is a rewarding accomplishment, and puts us in very good company,” said Corrine Storey, BC Ferries’ Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. “It demonstrates the importance we place on sharing the marine environment with whales, dolphins and other species, and reducing the impact of ferry operations on the marine environment. We also actively participate in the WhaleReport Alert System and collaborate with Ocean Wise on various research projects, training initiatives and publications.”
“As an ecotourism whale watching operator, we care deeply about the health of whale populations in BC” said Andrew Lees, owner of Five Star Whale Watching in Victoria. “We have made it part of our daily operations to report our sightings to BCCSN. It’s our duty to protect these majestic animals.”
Top Reporters will be listed on the BCCSN website, receive a certificate acknowledging their achievement, and get a window and e-decal to display their commitment to cetacean research and conservation.
2019’s top reporters to the BC Cetacean Sightings Network
*In alphabetical order by category
- Bluewater Adventures
- Eagle Wing Tours
- Five Star Whale Watching
- Jamie’s Whaling Station
- Khutzeymateen Wilderness Lodge
- Ocean Light 2 Adventures
- Prince of Whales
- Vancouver Island Whale Watch
- Vancouver Whale Watch
- BC Coast Pilots
- BC Ferries
- Black Ball Transport
- Canadian Coast Guard
- Fisheries and Oceans Canada
- Transport Canada – National Aerial Surveillance Program Pacific
- Pacific Provider Salmon
- Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre
- Cetus Research and Conservation Society
- Raincoast Conservation Foundation
- Salmon Coast Field Station
- The Whale Interpretive Centre
You can be part of the solution, too. Everyone is encouraged to use the WhaleReport app to report whale and turtle sightings to the BC Cetacean Sightings Network. If you don’t have a smart phone, you can also report via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or online at www.wildwhales.org/sightings.